Application

 Cambridge

 Queens’

 Natural Sciences (Physical)

 2009

 pooled, offer made (Queens’)

Applicant

 A-levels

 pre-qualification

 home

 United Kingdom

 Comprehensive School

 yes (2 A*,8 A,1 B,1 C)

A-levels

(A at AS (259 UMS))

(A at AS (269 UMS); predicted A; gained A at A2)

(A at AS (275 UMS); predicted A; gained A at A2)

(A at AS (276 UMS); predicted A; gained A at A2)

(A at AS (267 UMS); predicted A; gained A at A2)

Details about the offer

 conditional

A in Chemistry, A in Mathematics (Further), A in Physics

A*AA in either Chemistry, Physics or Further Mathematics.

yes

no

 grades pending/unknown

Decisions about the application

Cambridge was one of the few universities to have such a broad course in natural sciences, allowing me to continue Chemistry, Physics and maths. The supervision-style teaching also looked to give a greater opportunity in fully understanding the subject at hand. Also – It’s Cambridge!

Oxford did not host the course and therefore I was not interested.

I definately wanted to continue within the field of science, specifically physics, but I wasn’t quite ready to just drop chemistry. It’s too interesting and adds more problem solving fun! I think Natural sciences is for anyone with a huge fascination for science and other courses just don’t compare.

I was recommended Clare by a teacher because ‘the lady on the phone sounded friendly’. I couldn’t choose so I just went with the recommendation. I felt slightly uncomfortable when I went for my interview however and so, being fished by queens was a great oppurtunity. when i went for the second interview, Queens felt much more at home. So it’s true – you have to visit the colleges to get a real feel for them and be able to confidently say ‘I would gladly spend the next few years of my life here’. Therefore Open days are a must (something I never did).

Preparation

yes

Practise Interview:
I had two mock interviews, both were solely concentrated on personal statement questions. The real interviews had NO personal statement questions. the mocks, therefore, served no real purpose other than to unnecessarily worry me about the real interview.

Read through your AS syllabus (They particularly enjoy asking Mechanics and maths questions as well as a hint of electricity)[Assuming you’re appyling for Physics]

Interview

no

no

yes

The thinking skills assessment (TSA). It’s just a standard aptitude test, probing you’re ability to evaluate and analyse texts and arguements. It’s also multiple choice. There’s not much to prepare for here.

They were surprisingly fun (The first two anyway). It’s basicly like having a one-one lesson on your subject with your teacher. I felt I did very well having thought outloud and explaining exactly what I was thinking.

The re-Interview, at Queens, didn’t go as well. I don’t know whether it was intentionally harder due to the greater competition for remaining places or if I just had a really bad day. Either way, I thought I did terribly. I didn’t speak out loud as much and was just unable to understand, I now find out, the simplest of questions (Hence his outburst ‘You should not be wasting time on this!’)

The questions aren’t designed to be hard, they’re designed for you to relay to the interviewer how you think and how you approach a particular problem.

1st: Momentum, Energy conversions, conservation.

2nd: Equilibria (Chemistry), Geometry, Black holes (deriving a formula).

3rd: Excitation (Greenhouse effect), graph sketching, Projectiles (Optimum angle), Electrical Power (The simplest question in the world that I managed to screw up..)

First two I wore a suit. Re-interview I just wore a smart shirt and black trousers. It looked smart and tidy.

Impressions

Clare was beautiful but It wasn’t for me. Queens, which is just next door to Clare, felt much more suited for me. I’m not really sure I’d describe it though.

I was starving so I din’t notice the quality. Seemed fine to me.

Very friendly and helpful.

Busy.

Final stage

Anxious.

Relieved.

Looking back

If I had no idea of what was to come, Sure. Then again, the interviews were fun. It was just the waiting was so stressful. In addition, the pool was the most depressing 3 days of my life BUT I was ecstatic when i was called for a reinterview.

Visit the colleges. Don’t just resarch them.
Relax and try to have fun.